Institut français des relations internationales

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Institut français des relations internationales
Established 1979
President Thierry de Montbrial
Location Paris, France

The Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri; english French Institute of International Relations) is the main independent research and debate institution dedicated to international affairs, based in Paris, France.

In 2011, for the fourth consecutive year, Ifri was the only French based research institution to be ranked among the top 50 most influential think tanks worldwide outside of the United States, placing 3rd in Western Europe according to "Global Go-To Think Tanks", a study undertaken by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, and ranking more than 6,480 institutes located in 169 countries.

Since its creation in 1979 by Thierry de Montbrial, inspired by the American model of research institutions, Ifri has since affirmed itself as one of the most established French think tanks. An integral part of the international think tank network, Ifri aims at gathering decision-makers and researchers to develop non-partisan and thorough research and debate on major contemporary international issues.

Ifri’s goal is to:

  • Develop applied research in the field of public policy, related to international issues; and
  • Foster interactive and constructive dialogue between researchers, professionals, and opinion leaders.[1]

Ifri is independent from all administrative and financial regulatory authorities and has no affiliation with any political party. Its political and intellectual independence is paramount and the Institute chose to diversify its public and private sources of funding. With a budget amounting to about 6.5 million Euros, about 70% of which coming from private sources, Ifri has been able, despite the constraints related to the global economic crisis, to stay true to its independence and its vocation.

Ifri employs 60 people or so, 30 of them being French and foreign researchers from various backgrounds. More than half of them are less than 40 years old. The research centers are organized by regions (Europe, Russia, Newly Independent States, Asia, Middle East, Africa, the United States of America) and by themes (Security and strategic issues, Energy, Space, International Economy, Migrations, Health and Environmental issues), working in synergy and on a cross-divisional basis.

Outside of their research work, every year, Ifri gathers renowned guest speakers from all over the world for them to shed a rich and precious light upon international issues, in an informal and non-partisan framework. The Institute organizes about 40 conferences each year in Paris (42 in 2011), with more than 10 000 participants every time. Guests from previous years have included, between others, Nicolas Sarkozy, Dmitri Medvedev, Hu Jintao, Jalal Talabani, Hamid Karzai, Vladimir Putin, Mikheil Saakashvili, Abdoulaye Wade, Vaclav Klaus, Pervez Musharraf, Abdullah Gül, Boris Tadic, Viktor Yanukovych, Paul Kagamé, Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, etc.


Thierry de Montbrial.jpg

In 1973, Minister of Foreign Affairs Michel Jobert put Thierry de Montbrial in charge of establishing the Centre d’Analyse et de Prévision (Center of Analysis and Forecasting) at the Quai d’Orsay in order to analyze the international relations system. This framework encouraged him to create an independent research center dedicated to this subject.

In 1979, he founded Ifri with the support of Prime Minister Raymond Barre and Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis de Guiringaud and his successor Jean François-Poncet. Marc Gilbert, ex producer of Italiques (talk show) at the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (French Office for Radio and Television) became the general secretary.

Ifri has been established upon an already existing institution, the Centre d’Etudes de Politique Etrangère (The Study Center of Foreign Policy) founded in 1935 by French universities and by the Canergie Foundation for International Peace.

Today, the Institute has about 80 partner companies and almost 400 members (private individuals and institutions). Dominique Moïsi is a special advisor.

Ifri is also based in Brussels since March 2005 with its new office: Ifri Bruxelles.

Networks and international influence[edit]

Ifri works in partnership with its counterparts on a regular basis ; the RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, the Council On Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA), the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), the French-Korean Foundation, le Conseil des relations étrangères allemand (Deutsche Gesellschaft für auswärtige Politik), etc.

Ifri’s willing to assume its part as most important French based European Institute. Thus, the European dimension is paramount in all of its activities. A new office – Ifri Bruxelles – has opened in Brussels since March 2005 and acts as an active interface between Paris and Brussels. Its mission is to contribute to the European debate through a multidisciplinary approach, covering all the dimensions of international relations.

Ifri Bruxelles organizes about 30 events each year. In 2011, some of the tackled issues were; European economic governance, the first steps of the European Service in External Action, NATO and Russia facing Afghanistan, illegal immigrants in Europe, European energy and environment policies, spatial security in Europe, Sahel security.


The policy oriented research advocated by Ifri aims at highlighting the important international events. It is mainly addressed to political and economical decision-makers, academic institutions, opinion leaders as well as representative of civil societies.

To carry out this ambition, its work is divided into research centers which are organized by

Each center publishes its own collection online, available on the Ifri website.

Ifri gathers about 30 French and foreign permanent researchers from various backgrounds. They are divided into 15 research units dedicated to regional or cross-divisional issues.


Ramsès, an annual collective work and the quarterly magazine Politique Etrangère (Foreign Affairs) are the two main editorial activities of Ifri. Since 1981, the annual report Ramsès is dedicated to the main global trends (about 10 000 copies). Politique Etrangère, which was created in 1936, is the first French magazine on the subject. This quarterly magazine offers a cross-divisional vision of the current international affairs. A special issue was published in 2006 to celebrate the magazine’s 70th anniversary.

Along with these two references, Ifri also publishes shorter or more specialized works; Notes de l’Ifri (Ifri’s Notes) and Les Etudes de l’Ifri (Ifri’s Studies), a short magazine named “Actuelles de l’Ifri” (Ifri’s News) as well as Ifri’s online collections – about 10 – and the books written by the Ifri researchers. Ifri publishes its analyses in several languages. In 2012, 12 of them have been published, 4 of which in foreign languages, as well as 130 numerical notes, 50% of which in foreign languages – English, German and Russian.


Ifri’s budget amounted to about 6.5 million of Euros in 2011. Ifri is a voluntary association, and its sources of funding are various: subsidies or State contracts, private funding from individuals or companies. The members list is available online under the Ifri’s Partners section.


External links[edit]